Garden Report: March 2

Noel did a bunch of wiring today, which was kind of boring to look at: here's a wall without any wiring, now here's a wall with a receptacle in it! Thrilling. I'm most excited about getting the doorbell back, myself.

Anyway, it's also been a while since I showed you around the garden, and everybody has been asking me about it this week.

Basically, this is turning out to be a strangely early spring. While the rest of the country is having polar weather pressed down on them, the converse is happening here, where Mexican weather is being pulled north to keep things warm and not as rainy as we'd like. So the bees are over a month early, the nectar flow has started (!!!) and everything is popping into bloom. (And we have an looming water disaster that may have nationwide consequences, yikes.)

Apricot blossom

This is the apricot. I'd like to see more than one or two apricots this year. Not to speak ill of the dead but Goldie ate all three we had last year.

pluot blossoms

The pluot is actually at the end of its bloom. I have a fantasy that a neighbor will plant a good pollinator, but really what I need to do is get a scion that will pollinate and graft it on. Until then it is pretty much just ornamental.

plum blossom

The plums really just started opening this week, but they should be going gangbusters in a day or two, judging by the number of nearly opened buds.

out of focus ribes

This is a Ribes sanguineum -- a currant -- in the swath. I'm posting it even though it is out of focus, because I didn't notice since I was laughing too hard when I took it. Laughing because as I waded into the planting bed with my camera, a woman and her kid walked by and the kid said, "What is she doing in the flowers?"

Indeed. Crazy people climbing all over gardens with a camera.

Whenever I see this plant I think of my late friend Patsy, for whom I once bought three ribes at a plant sale on the way to visit her in Santa Barbara, and then we drove down with Rosie and Goldie uncomfortably surrounded by plants. Because that's how plant people are. I may not have Patsy any more, but I have a little reminder of how fun she was to talk plants with.

Lady Jane in bloom

In the bulb world, the Lady Jane clusianas are up and lovely. I am so glad I planted more of them. The tiny bulbs are a real pain in the butt to plant around the yard, but if you do a dozen a year for a few years, you can get quite a swath going.

bulbs under the buddleias

Another bulb planting from last year that is still paying off are the ipheion I hid around the place. Especially the ones I planted under the buddleias here, which are adding little sparkly spots of blue. They're hard to get into a photograph; the picture gets flattened and you miss the way a bit of blue will catch your eye. Anyway, I am quite happy with how they are coming up all over. They are notorious for spreading wildly and I will encourage that.

species tulips

These are some species tulips, which I was pleased to see coming back. Tulips are iffy in this climate, more so now that we're having hotter winters. These are "Little Beauty," I think, based on their colour and where they are planted (near the end of planting bulbs I got a little tired and went off-plan). They are closed up because it was raining off and on. Yay for rain. Boo for not being able to see the pretty blue eyes.

almost freesias

The freesias are back, too. One of our neighbors has a magnificent display of freesias that always made me jealous, so now I have some of my own. Not nearly as amazing as hers, but my own little pile of sand.

daffodils

And daffodils! I am so happy to see the daffodils coming up again. I've planted them in the past and they do not always come back -- it's kind of a guessing game which varieties will return in this climate. I know everybody who dealt with record snowfall this winter is all "cry me a river California girl," but we all have our trials.

And aren't the daffodils lovely? They got kind of beaten up by the rain this week, but I'm happy to have some rain.

Speaking of rain.

Magnolia

Last week the new owners of the green house next door to us repainted. I posted this photo to Facebook to show the green-haters the new look, also capturing a piece of the magnolia tree out front.

Shortly thereafter a weather system blew in and brought us some rain and wind and I came outside in the morning to see this:

after a windy day

It was pretty funny. Like the tree sneezed or something.

grape hyacinths in bloom

And under the magnolia petals, the grape hyacinths. I did not plan that vignette, but it happened and apart from being almost sickeningly sweet, it is also very pretty.

magnolia seedhead

I also really enjoy the magnolia seedheads in this state, newly stripped of their petals but not yet formed into hard cones.

contorted quince

And this is the contorted quince, which is so delicious looking right before the buds open. I know it looks delicious to others, too, because this afternoon I let the chickens out for a run around the garden, and one of them ran up to it and ate a whole bunch of buds.

the chickens heading out for a little run-around in the garden

Normally I would have let the chickens free range over the period between late December and February, but I didn't get it together this year, so that did not happen. That means there's lots more oxalis than usual, and the chickens are starving for fresh greens. I may have to set them up a pasturing pen over the lawn or something to make up for it.

bee hives hard at work

Also doing well are both hives. Seeing how many bees are going in and out of the two hives, I am sure doing a split last weekend was the right thing. They're also all still working on cleaning up the frames we extracted after the other hives died out. And I have some plans for reworking their situation a little to make it easier to manage them.

Finally, a note.

Some time ago I worked as a gardener at a large botanical garden. It was manual labour and didn't require much intellectual investment, but it was also very personally fulfilling, and fed my growing love of gardening. The head gardener once told me about establishing a meadow. The first few years, you have to go in and seed the plants you want and weed out the ones you don't. Then after a bit something happens and there are enough seeds from the plants you want that for a while all you have to do is weed -- both the weeds and the excess plants of the type you want.

this year is going to be a lot of poppies

I've never been much interested in having a meadow in the city -- I'd be up for a bit of country property some day, but that's not happening soon -- but today as I was looking around the garden I realized that my poppies have seeded all over the garden, and I kind of have a meadow going on. This spring there will be approximately ten trillion poppy plants in the garden (a rough estimate). They are coming up everywhere. I am going to have to weed them out and thin the ones I want to keep.

The same thing happened a couple years ago with the California poppies. It's a very fun stage. After you get over the angst about pulling out a plant that people pay real money to put in, of course.

posted by ayse on 03/02/14

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